In a press conference on Thursday, January 7, President elect Joseph Biden announced that he will appoint Merrick Garland, a Judge on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, as his Attorney General, the top job at the US Justice Department.
In 2016, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, then-President Barack Obama nominated Garland to the US Supreme Court. But he was never confirmed for that post because, for months, the Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow even for hearings on the nomination. McConnell claimed that there was a principle involved, that with a presidential election campaign underway, the seat should remain vacant until the people have had their say. In October 2020, though, another Supreme Court vacancy opened. This time the Republican President, Donald Trump, named a nominee for the post immediately, Professor Amy Coney Barrett. McConnell’s principled reservations about holding hearings in that climate had in the meantime conveniently disappeared, and the Senate confirmed Barrett with impressive velocity. The disparity in the handling of the two vacancies left Democrats furious.
The Thing to Know:
The Democratic Party is now in the majority in the Senate, and so is in a position to approve of Garland’s position at the head of the Justice Department without so much as a fiddle-dee-dee to Senator McConnell, now the Minority Leader.